A federal judge granted an injunction on July 30 ordering the Kellogg Company to end its lockout of 226 Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 252G members at its Memphis cereal plant and reinstate them to their jobs within five days.
Judge Samuel H. Mays of the Western District of Tennessee also ordered Kellogg to bargain with the union in good faith; offer reinstatement to every worker to their former or equivalent positions; reestablish the same terms and conditions of employment prior to the company’s last/best offer; and submit to the court details of its compliance with the order within 20 days.
BCTGM International President David B. Durkee, said, “A federal judge agreed entirely and unequivocally with the union and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Judge Mays rejected each and every argument Kellogg has made since this dispute began.”
The union is an MTD affiliate. During its executive board meeting in February, the MTD unanimously passed a statement in solidarity with the Local 252G members, who were locked out on October 22.
The NLRB filed its lawsuit in April seeking a temporary injunction against the cereal maker.
Durkee noted that the decision validates what the BCTGM has contended since the beginning of the lockout: “Our members and their families have been subjected to more than 280 days of unnecessary pain and suffering at the hands of Kellogg. We applaud Judge Mays for beginning the process of righting this senseless tactic that was brutally imposed on these workers and their families. We look forward to our members returning to do what they do best — producing a quality product.”
In the decision, Mays said that imposing a lockout over non-mandatory terms is unlawfully coercive and “discriminate[s] against the employees for their participation in protected collective bargaining activity.”
The BCTGM had argued that Kellogg’s proposals in local bargaining would have changed already agreed upon wage rates and benefits for regular employees, thus modifying the terms and conditions contained in the master contract that governs such terms and is in effect until October 2015. The judge validated the union’s position in his ruling, stating: “Kellogg’s proposals were not to change the casual employee program, as it insists it had the right to demand. Rather, Kellogg effectively demanded changes to the wage rates of new or rehired regular employees. Those rates are set in the Master Agreement. The good-faith bargaining required by the [National Labor Relations] Act does not allow Kellogg to use creative semantics to force midterm changes in the wages of new or rehired regular employees in violation of the Master Agreement.”
Mays concluded that it was “just and proper” to end the lockout, adding: “The lockout, which has deprived the employees of their pay and health insurance, has been ongoing for nine months. The administrative process may continue for many months and even years to come. To allow the lockout to continue through that period would place significant hardship on employees in furtherance of Kellogg’s bargaining position, which [the NLRB] has reasonable cause to believe is unlawful. That would undermine the remedial powers of the Board.”